Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

A Stack of Pine Trees

Louis E. Bourgeois


The voices are still there thirty years later, nothing has changed. Mr. Rodriquez is still yelling at Mike Brown for blasting his plump gray squirrels out of his backyard with a double barrel twelve gauge. Mike and I will risk our lives to kill whatever we want.

On this particular day, there was a logging road behind Mr. Rodriquez’s house that had cut through a thick grove of pines years ago and we’re walking the trail and there are flies as thick as storm clouds hovering over the body of a rotting deer someone undoubtedly wounded one night as they poached the deer with a headlight, and the deer must have lopped away with a gut shot and finally collapsed here on the logging road where it died an agonizing death in the early dawn light a week or so earlier. Mike takes out a cheap pocket knife from his jeans and starts hacking away at the little deer antlers, a three pointer, and ties both sets of antlers around his neck with his shoe string and just as soon as he brings his arms from around the back of the neck, we both spot a decaying pile of branchless pine trees that long ago was left behind by a team of pulpwood cutters because these logs were just not big enough to bother hauling in to be processed at the mill.

Around the pile are shallow but wide pools of water where a stout looking green heron pecks away at water bugs and crawfish—neither of us have ever seen a green heron before, it’s not until later after I’ve looked it up in the forty-year-old bird book my father gave me from his youth that I know what kind of bird it is, but for the moment Mike and I are startled to see such a strange bird out here in the highlands of our piney woods village. We thought we knew all the birds in the area because we thought we’d shot them all. Mike raises the pellet rifle that we’re sharing and fires the last pellet we have and we hear the plunk of the pellet but it’s high above the wing and we both take after this bird that can’t fly anymore but most indeed can run like hell. He runs like Road Runner in those old cartoons and hides in the pine logs and here we are straining to move the logs that haven’t been moved in over a decade perhaps in order to get to the bird. It takes half the day to move all the logs from the top of the pile to get to the bird. Mike spies him first and then grabs him quickly and tries to wring its neck but the bird was a survivor. He didn’t want to die at all and it made this eerie croaking sound the whole time Mike tangled with it. Finally, Mike pulled out his cheap pocket knife from his back pocket and starts cutting into the bird’s gut sack and when he’s finished, a dozen or so silver minnows poured out of him like a slot machine.

Mike and I looked at the dead bird and the minnows that had poured out of its stomach, and in our young kid’s way both commented on how strange life was.

1980

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Louis E. Bourgeois lives on a wheat farm in North Mississippi. His latest book, OLGA, was published by WordTech in 2005. Currently, he is completing a memoirs collection titled The Gar Diaries.

© Louis E. Bourgeois

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012